So this is my first time writing a blog, and so far learning how it works is as easy as learning how to communicate in French. Needless to say- bare with me. I have FINALLY arrived in France after months of submitting paper work, writing french essays, squirreling away money like a greedy pre-hibernation rodent, convincing new teachers to vouch for me, having moments of France bound panic, taking night classes in Cambridge and oh and let’s not forget 12 years of dreaming…and I can’t believe that it’s all real. A dream of mine has actually become a reality! I’d like to take a moment here to thank all the little people- haha no- all of the really important people in my life who have helped me get here with their constant support and love. As cliché as it may be, I really would not be here without my friends and family.
So France. I don’t know how to quite sum up the past 2 1/2 weeks. It’s been a whirlwind of traveling, paperwork, french, excitement, panic, awe, some more excitement and lots more French. Antoine and I traveled 24 hours from Austin to New York to London to Lyon and then from there a bus to Grenoble and a car ride from a dedicated friend of Antoine’s to our final destination, Braincon. I never want to do that again. I was too delirious and sleep deprived to take in the initial wonder of finally arriving in France. All I wanted was a bed.
But I survived and we spent another whirlwind of a day in his home (Briancon) only to wake our asses up at dawn, pack up his car and drive 6 hours to Montbeliard. After projectile vomiting on the side of a mountain (TMI? I think we had food poisoning or really bad jet lag or a combination of both in addition to the constant winding roads that you must take to exit his mountain town), and braving torrential down pours, I made it to Montbeliard like a little rat dog- shaky and soaking. But I met my coordinator, Veronique, who was instantly warm and helpful. She showed me a little bit of the school but most importantly la salle des profs (teacher’s room) and then showed me to my room. Aside from the strong pickle smell coming from my pipes, the tiny shared fridge in our kitchen and the semi broken tiny shower, it’s really quite nice. I have a decently sized room to myself, a kitchen and bathroom just for me and two other assistants- Ilka, from Germany and Diego, from Mexico, a great location for my job (the school is a courtyard away), and close proxemitiy to le centre ville. And I only pay 80 euros a month! Tough to beat. Every time that I get irritated with the pickle stench that greets me as I enter my room, I remind myself that this room is helping me with a trip to Prague, a weekend in Besancon and many more adventures to come.
In an effort to not rant too much more (I have French paperwork calling my name), I will try to summarize my experiences here. Montbeliard is beautiful. It’s bigger than I expected but the ‘night life’ is smaller than I expected, as in non-existent…..as in not even restaurants are open on a Friday night. Ok there are a few, but it’s scarce. Maybe I have yet to explore the right areas of Montbeliard…but it’s not that big. We have a beautiful chateau, an old city center, a plethora of vibrant flowers (we’re a four flower city…apparently that’s the highest flower rating a city can get- it’s a weird French thing), beautiful rolling hills and lots of fog and rain. I have returned to New England. There are a few key differences though. It seems as though you can have multiple seasons all in one day. The morning usually starts off foggy and cold and turns into a full fledged summer or spring day by the late afternoon. And supposedly the seasons don’t last forever. Fall exists until early November and snow stays only for a month or two- not SIX!! Sorry. Still a little bitter about being robbed of spring for the last 6 years. I hope it’s different here….
Well of course it’s different here and so far I’m loving it. There are times when it can be overwhelming not to know the language, but I’ve been surprised at my abilities to carry on a conversation or accomplish important tasks entirely in French. Living with roomies who communicate in French is also very helpful. Working in a highschool and speaking French with the teachers is beneficial as well. I’m working at two different schools- with 9 English professors in one and 3 in another. So far, I’ve only been observing the classes for the past 2 weeks. I start the teaching process next week which is both scary and exciting. I will have to write a different post entirely on the french school system, the teachers and the students because there is far too much to say. In so many words- France = relaxed and high school students aren’t scary but hilarious and adorable.
For now, that’s it. But this is only the beginning….